There it is. The job that you really want just became available online. Should you fire off that resume right away so that you are among the first applicants?
Sort of, but not really. While there is some advantage to applying early, taking a bit of time to take care of a few essential pre-application steps will boost your chances of success. So, don’t hit send just yet. Here are five things you should do before you apply for any job.
Read the job requirements carefully
Do you meet at least most of them? You don’t actually have to have 100 per cent of the credentials asked listed. Employers routinely ask for more credentials and skills than they actually expect candidates to have. This helps discourage less-qualified candidates from applying, giving them fewer resumes to sift through. Studies have found that you have a solid chance of being interviewed for a job if you meet at least 50 per cent of the requirements listed in the job ad.
Customize your resume
Even if you have a polished, professional resume, don’t use it to apply for the job without tweaking it first. Once you’ve analyzed the qualifications of the job and determined the ones that you have, make sure that your resume highlights those front and centre. Your application should make it clear that you have the ability to do the job and be successful at it.
Highlight your key selling points that are most relevant to that role with that employer.
Check your network for connections
Ask your friends and family, check your online networks, and speak with former colleagues in the industry to see if you are connected to anyone who works at the organization. An inside connection can help you understand the company culture and goals and give you some insight into who might be interviewing you.
Also, and most importantly, having someone on the inside put in a good word for you will go a long way towards insuring that, at the very least, your resume gets read and considered by the hiring manager.
Research the company
Employers routinely say that their biggest pet peeve with candidates is when they appear to have little or no knowledge about their company, products or services. Once you apply, you never know when your phone might ring. That call could just be to schedule an in-face interview – giving you time to prepare. However, you could also receive a pre-screening phone interview call with little notice. Be prepared. Have a firm understanding of what the company’s mission, goals, and challenges are before you apply. This way you are ready to articulate why you want to work there and how you could contribute on a moment’s notice.
You can find a great deal of information on the company website, by Googling them for news articles or magazine features, and surveying their social media profiles.
Review your own online presence
Once you’ve applied for a job, if your application makes it through to the pre-screening round, most employers will be looking you up online. You need to make sure that all of the personal and professional information that is publicly available about you online closely matches what you’ve written in your resume. Employers view any discrepancies as potential red flags. You tweaked your resume to apply for the job – now make sure that your LinkedIn profile still matches.
Also, make sure that your posts on other social media sites don’t cast a poor light on your candidacy. Get rid of any complaints about work, angry rants, or compromising photos.
Proving that you have the qualifications to successfully do the job, being well-informed about the company, using any connections you have with the employer, and having a professional online presence will all boost your chances more than being the first one to apply.
Still, you should do all of your research and preparation quickly. There is a statistical advantage to applying early. See also: The best time to apply for a job.